Missing since March 4, 2005
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Our friend Del Sample, is in an unknown state. On Friday, March 4, 2005, he left his home in Onalaska, Washington (in the lower right corner of this map) to spend a long weekend in the wilderness. He has not yet returned.
On the morning of March 4, he purchased fuel for his pickup in Centralia, Washington. This was verified by video cameras at the gas station.
He probably then proceeded west on US 12, then north on US 101 to Lake Quinault, near the southern boundary of Olympic National Park. Upon reaching Lake Quinault, he evidently proceeded east along South Shore Road until, deep in the rain forest, his pickup was parked west of the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead (pictured here filled with puddles (same picture bigger)) which is just across the road from the Quinault River (big). There, a quarter mile from the trailhead, we assume that it was Del who exited the pickup and left it parked beside the road, evidently very close to where this picture (big) was taken. (That cut in the distance is Fletcher Canyon.) Food and a sleeping bag were found still inside.
At that point, the trail of evidence ends. No bicycle tracks were found beside the pickup, although conditions were perfect for leaving tracks, and Del had recently purchased a mountain bike. (This bike had still not been located as of March 25.)
By Sunday, March 6, Forest and Olympic Park rangers were beginning to wonder about the status of the pickup parked beside South Shore road, since no one had registered that pickup for overnight camping.
On Monday, March 7, Del did not appear at work. Phone calls to his house produced no answer. Colleagues thought this very strange, since Del never missed work without communicating with his co-workers.
On Tuesday, March 8, Del again did not appear at work. His colleagues phoned the Lewis County Sheriff, who immediately published an APB on Del's vehicles. The APB produced an immediate response from the Olympic Park rangers, who by this time were beginning to worry about any previous occupants of the seemingly abandoned pickup. A quick search in the forest took place immediately, and plans were laid for a full search the next day.
Early the next morning, March 9, The Jefferson County Sheriff implemented a search and rescue operation, complete with bloodhounds and trained searchers. Many square miles surrounding Fletcher Canyon Trail were thoroughly searched. No trace of Del was found. Other searches have taken place since March 9, all without resolution.
During and after that time, friends of Del have conducted many impromptu searches in the rain forest, possibly searching for reconciliation with the open-ended situation as much as for Del.
After many interviews with friends and family, the Lewis County detective that has been assigned to the case concluded that it was highly unlikely that Del had "run away," or that he had been showing any signs of depression.
Where is Del? No one knows. Still, you might be able to help. Download this poster, and post it. (The poster is in .pdf format, designed by Del's friends in Chehalis.)
Other pictures taken in the Quinault valley; roadside jungle (big), rain forest mountainside (big) on the south valley wall, same south valley wall (big) taken from the north side of the valley floor, big tree (big), waterfall (big), another waterfall (big).